Photos and iPhoto

Got the message from the the Mac saying my hard drive is almost full. There is plenty that can be removed that is not needed anymore, but here is a question:

Under documents, the largest culprit is iPhoto with 30some GB. When I click on it, it prompts me that these photos have been migrated to Photos. I have been using Photos for a little while so this makes sense. But - if I remove iPhoto to clear space are they already backed up in Photos or do I need to move manually? I assuming I can delete iPhoto and they’re already saved/migrated, but thought I’d first ask the experts.


Short answer: no problem.
Longer answer: iPhoto isn’t that large an app so be very careful which photos_library you’re deleting!

If you’re using Photos the photos themselves (which exist in a library) are being managed by that app, and the discontinued, vestigial iPhoto app can be deleted.

Best, fullest answer to that particular question I’ve seen is here.

But the iPhoto app is only about one gig in size, not 30Gb.

Moreover, iCloud photos is not technically backup - Apple is managing the photos (and they back up their own drives and you’re placing trust in that), and if you delete a photo that’s in iCloud, whether it’s on your Mac or iOS device it gets deleted by Apple.

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OP said “Under documents, the largest culprit is iPhoto with 30some GB…”. These are your actual photos, of which only one copy exist (I.e. there is not one copy for iPhoto and a separate copy for Photos) - do not delete them. As @bowline said, it is safe to delete the iPhoto app. Also take careful note of @bowline’s guidance regarding iCloud Photos.

BTW 30 GB isn’t all that big: How big is your Photos library?

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Thank you both! Sounds like I shouldn’t delete.

The listing I’m reading from is the Recommendations window that popped up informing me I only had 10GB left out of 500. I’ve since culled it down significantly and the extra 30 GB of iPhoto was just a thought to see if it would buy me more space…but I’ll leave it alone.

Agreed that 30GB isn’t that much. The rest of Photos is about 100 GB which isn’t that much either compared to some people’s collections.

Was just trying to buy as much space as I could afford.

When you first run Photos, all the images in the iPhoto library are “migrated” to the Photos library. This is done using links. While it appears that the space needed suddenly doubles (because of two copies) since the photos share the same space the disk usage doesn’t go up. This also means that if you delete the iPhoto library you won’t gain any free space on the drive.

However, from this point on, if you add images to iPhoto, they won’t be “migrated” to Photos. If you only use Photos and add no images to iPhoto, you can safely delete the iPhoto library. Of course if you are still apprehensive, just move the iPhoto library to an external drive to archive it.


@tomalmy is correct, I was mixed up. That’s what you get when you post late at night.

@tomalmy Thank you very much for the explanation. I haven’t used iPhoto in a long time and had forgotten about it!